The Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC) has criticized the recent decisions by the judiciary which elevated technicality over substantial justice.
In a letter signed by its acting head, Professor Saddiq Raddah, the committee cited the cases of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu; the governorship judgments in Rivers, Zamfara and Bayelsa States as “a clear preference for technicality at the expense of the justice.”
It said the decision of the Supreme Court in Kalu’s N7bn case by disregarding the fiat given by the President of the Court of Appeal relying on Section 397(7) of the ACJA threw overboard the 12 years of labour of the trial court and the Court of Appeal for a fresh start.
PACAC said the 2015 Rivers State governorship election dispute where the Supreme Court ruled that the petitioner, who complained of substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act ought to prove it polling unit by polling unit, ward by ward.
PACAC also stated “Even more grievous are the Supreme Court decisions in Zamfara and Bayelsa States in 2019 by which it effectively transferred the electoral victory of one party to another which had been massively rejected at the poll by the electorates.
“In other words, the Supreme Court set aside the decision of the electorate and assumed the powers to install the losers in both the executive and legislative arms of government in Zamfara State and in the executive arm in Bayelsa State.
“Thus, the Supreme Court had handed over the governance of a state from a party the electorate had overwhelmingly voted for, to a party that they had firmly rejected at the polls.
“In other words, in these two cases, the court constituted itself into the electorate of Zamfara and Bayelsa states, by imposing its will over the states’ electorate.
“This constituted a major breach of the constitution and our democratic rights because neither the constitution nor the practice of democracy contemplates any situation, in which a court replaces the votes of the electorate with its judicial votes.”
PACAC also warned that in the appointment of judges, “a ‘family affair’ judiciary must be avoided at all costs.”
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